The Baltimore Ravens and the Miami Dolphins are set to meet at the Sun Life Stadium on Sunday with the next loss for either side virtually ending their, already slim, playoff chances.
John Harbaugh’s side travels south to Miami after a thrilling Monday night win over the Cleveland Browns in week 12, and they continue to deal with a season full of adversity.
The Dolphins are coming into the game off the back of a crushing blowout at the hands of divisional rivals the New York Jets, and they still remain mathematically in the wildcard race at 4-7.
Flacco a big miss, but young stars begin to shine
For the first time in over seven years, Joe Flacco was not the starting quarterback after suffering a season-ending injury in week 11, leaving the role to veteran Matt Schaub for the rest of the season.
Schaub’s accuracy is a cause for concern, but he did come in and make some big plays, and the highlight for the Ravens on Monday night was on special teams with a Kaelin Clay punt return for a touchdown.
This is as well as a blocked field goal with three seconds left in the game and it was returned for a touchdown by Will Hill which sealed the 33-27 win for the Ravens.
With Justin Forsett out for the season with a broken arm, it will be up to Javorius Allen and Terrance West to carry the running game in Miami.
Offense struggling to find consistency
The problem for the Dolphins has been their inability to have any sort of consistency and balance on that side of the ball. Ryan Tannehill has shown potential, but has also had some really poor games.
A beaten up Baltimore side coming to town will give him an opportunity to shine in front of his own fans against a Ravens defense that has struggled against the pass, and wide-receiver Jarvis Landry is definitely the one to watch in this game.
Despite the Ravens being without some top players, Miami still have an uphill battle on their hands on Sunday if they are to get their fifth win of the season and their first against Baltimore since 2007.
Winner takes all, loser out of play-off race?
Both sides have underperformed this season to say the least, and sitting at 4-7 on the season the Ravens and the Dolphins have a slim chance of making the playoffs as a wildcard.
However, results have to go their way and they must win their last five games, but one side is going to be coming out of the game in Miami with only personal pride to play for in the remainder of the season.
As mentioned, Flacco and Forsett are out for the season, but Maxx Williams (concussion) is also out of the game and Marlon Brown (back) and Eugene Monroe (shoulder) are doubtful.
Chris Canty (NIR), Kelechi Osemele (knee), Daryl Smith (NIR) and Rick Wagner (NIR) are listed as probable, but the latter hadn’t participated all week in practice.
The Dolphins will be without one of their top receivers in Rishard Matthews (ribs) who is out of the game along with Koa Misi (abdomen) and Ja’Wuan James (toe).
Mike Pouncey (foot) and Kenny Stills (ankle) are questionable after limited practice this week, but Jay Ajayi (shoulder), Landry (knee) as well as seven other players are on the injury report, but are likely to feature in this one.